AJFF What to Watch: Films About Weddings

07/20/2020

In an "I do" frame of mind? Then you'll want to wed yourself to one of these features shown by AJFF in years past. Film titles are linked with information on where to watch.

Bride Flight
A lavish romantic epic charts the lives of three women from different backgrounds, forever changed after a historic KLM flight from London to New Zealand. Eager to escape the gloom of post-war Holland, shy but sensual farm girl Ada, dogmatic Marjorie, and Jewish fashion designer Esther fast become friends during the 1953 air race that carried the brides-to-be to their fiancés in New Zealand. Also onboard in Frank, a hunky bachelor who becomes inextricably linked to the trio over the span of 50 years. Sumptuous photography, inspired casting (including a rare cameo by Rutger Hauer), and the fine direction of Ben Sombogaart (Oscar-nominated Twin Sisters) create an absorbing melodrama. Based on the bestselling novel by Marieke van der Pol. Featured at the 2011 AJFF.

Demon
A bridgegroom is possessed by a restless spirit during his own wedding celebration in the sinister and at times darkly humorous modern-day take on the dybbuk legend of Jewish folklore. Journeying from England to marry his beautiful beloed, the affable Piotr (Itay Tiran) arrives at the bride's rural family homestead in the Polish countryside, the property a gift from his future father-in-law (Andrzej Grabowski). The night before the nuptials, the groom unearths a pile of human bones in a makeshift grave. Haunted–first figuratively, but then quite literally–by the disturbing discovery, Piotr slowly starts to unravel, overcome by ghostly manifestations and epileptic fits. As the night wears on, the hijinks and psychological horror escalates, as bride Zaneta (Agnieszka Zulewska) frets, and the scandalized in-laws desperately work overtime to keep the wedding guests drinking and dancing. Rooted in themes of historical denial and reconciliation of Poland's troubled Jewish past, Demon is adapted from a 2008 play, Adherence, by noted Polish writer Piotr Rowicki, and given added poignancy by the untimely death of young writer-director Marcin Wrona, who tragically took his own life soon after the film's world premiere. Featured at the 2016 AJFF.

Serial (Bad) Weddings
A bourgeois Catholic family is upended by a succession of multi cultural marriages in this unabashedly politically incorrect romantic comedy that pokes fun at the melting pot of modern-day France. Well-off and well-educated, Claude Verneuil (Christian Clavier) and his churchgoing wife Marie (Chantal Lauby) are a generally conservative couple, but consider themselves open-minded. Their tolerance has been sorely tested as three of their four lovely daughters decide successively to marry an Arab (Rachid Benassem), a Jew (David Benichou) and an Asian (Chao Ling). The last hope for a traditional marriage is dashed when their youngest daughter Laure (Elodie Fontan) announces her upcoming wedding to Charles (Noom Diawara), of African descent. As the parents are forced to navigate their own prejudices, the three brothers-in-law are enlisted to sabotage the interracial nuptials and save the family's honor. When the groom's parents roll into town from the Ivory Coast, bigotry suddenly becomes a two-way street. Featured at the 2015 AJFF.

Suzie Gold
Set in an insular nouveau-riche north London community, this romantic comedy features a whole mishpokhe of colorful quirky characters. At the center, of course, is Suzie played with lovable charm by American actress Summer Phoenix as a twentysomething Jewish princess who suffers an identity crisis after her sister Sophie (Ariana Fravel) becomes engaged. Under pressure to tie the knot with a "nice Jewish boy," Suzie begins to question the traditions that have always defined her. Her doting but dysfunctional immigrant family desperately wants her to be happy, but only according to their exacting (double) standards. Will she marry the dream Jewish son-in-law - the very eligible, handsome, but tedious Anthony (Iddo Goldberg) - or an unsanctioned "goy wonder" from work, Darren (Leo Gregory)? The film reaches its climax as Suzie is forced to decide whether to follow the path laid out for her, or forge her own way through unchartered territory. Featured at the 2005 AJFF.

The Syrian Bride
The tortured politics of the Middle East receive a particularly humanistic treatment in this critically-acclaimed standout that skillfully balances family drama, gentle farce and political commentary. The multifaceted film uses the flashpoint of the Syrian-Israeli border to portray a wedding in unconventional light: the saddest day in the life of the bride. Leaving her village in the Golan Heights, Mona (Clare Khoury) will cross the border to an arranged marriage with a Syrian fiancée (Derar Sliman) she has never met. Once a Syrian citizen, she will never be allowed to reenter Israel to see her close-knit family again. Embroiled in the personal and bureaucratic mayhem is the large wedding party and cast of other assorted characters, each portrayed with uncommon depth and sympathy. Events unfold primarily, however, through the eyes of the bride’s sister, Amal (beautifully played by actress Hiam Abbass), a woman whose combined fragility and feminist strength represent the family as a whole. Directed by veteran Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis from a script he co-wrote with Palestinian TV journalist Suha Arraf, the film was shot on location in the majority Druze town of Majdal Shams. Featured at the 2006 AJFF.

The Wedding Plan
From acclaimed writer-director Rama Burshtein comes this surprisingly gentle and sweet new Israeli romantic comedy, featured as an AJFF Selects in 2017. After her fiancé calls off their wedding a month before the ceremony, an ultra-Orthodox woman (Noa Koler) decides to keep the wedding date, leaving it to fate to provide a suitable groom. Unwilling to return to lonely single life, Michal embarks on an exhaustive search for a spouse, enlisting different matchmakers and enduring a series of horrible blind dates. As the day of her wedding grows closer and without the presence of Mr. Right, the jilted bride-to-be puts everything on the line to find happiness.